Driving is such a common activity for most of us that we don’t really think about how dangerous it can be. We know that road accidents happen, but we practice a little cognitive dissonance and assume they won’t happen to us.
While the above is practical — we wouldn’t drive at all if we focused too much on the likelihood of accidents! — it can also give a false confidence when you’re behind the wheel. It’s important to remember that accidents can and do happen, as well as taking the time to understand the causes. To help improve your knowledge, and thus make you a better driver, read through this list of common car accident causes, so you know what to avoid in future.
#1 – Other drivers
Sadly, it’s important to address a simple fact of road safety: sometimes, you can be the best driver on the road, but it won’t keep you from car accidents.
This is obviously an unpleasant thing to have to digest. We humans like to feel that we’re in control at all times. We’d like to think that if we hold our hands at the correct position, always keep our cell phone turned off, and behave impeccably when behind the wheel, then we’re going to be safe. This, unfortunately, isn’t the case. We can’t guarantee that other drivers are going to be as conscientious as we are, and you may find yourself a victim of an accident that is completely not your fault.
While this is disheartening, it’s comforting to know that there are a few ways to deal with this reality. The first occurs behind the wheel; many of the mistakes made by other drivers can be avoided if you ensure you always have your focus on the road. If you see a car driving dangerously, then simply get out of their way, going as far as to pull over if necessary. The second comforting fact is, if you do get into an accident that isn’t your fault, then you do have the opportunity for compensation. If this unfortunate scenario does occur to you, you can find more info here on how to at least right the financial wrongs of another driver’s incompetence.
#2 – Timidity
You probably weren’t expecting the idea of timid driving to be the cause of accidents. It doesn’t quite seem to make sense; surely a driver who is timid and careful on the road is less likely to get into accidents?
This isn’t the case; timidity is just as, if not more, likely to cause accidents than aggressive drivers. Timidity suggests that the driver is lacking in confidence, which in turn tends to result in poor decision making. Given that driving is just a sequence of decisions, this doesn’t bode well for their safety on the road.
If you’re a timid driver, there’s no harm in having a few refresher lessons to help improve your confidence and decision-making skills. Alternatively, try and identify the situations that make you feel particularly nervous — such as heavy traffic or confusing junctions — then practice them until you feel your confidence level begin to rise.
#3 – Distraction
Under the label “distraction”, you will find the following causes of car accidents:
- Using a cell phone for texting or internet use while driving
- Using a cell phone to make calls during driving (which is distracting even if you use a hands-free device)
- Having a lively conversation with passengers
- Being too tired to be fully alert on the road
All of the above qualify as distractions because they all involve your focus not being 100 percent on the road. If you’re using your phone, engaged in debate, or yawning and wishing for your bed, then your mind isn’t going to be where it needs to be. The end result of this distraction is that the potential for accidents is greatly increased.
No matter how skilled a driver you are, the need for focus on the task in hand is always important. You likely know this, but we all have those occasional bad habits that mean our focus slips. As we get away with those focus slips the vast majority of the time, we’re not forced to adapt our behavior. However, if we get away with those distracted moments 99.9% of the time, there’s always a chance the .1% will result in an accident.
Try to limit your distractions while driving, and take action — such as taking a break — if you feel that your attention has been wandering. When you combine all the different forms of distraction, they make for the number one cause of car accidents, so this is definitely an issue to take seriously.
#4 – Vehicle problems
Finally, some car accidents are caused by vehicle malfunction or failure. However, the number of car accidents with this cause is probably lower than you expect.
The reason for this is that modern vehicles are safer than they have ever been. Accidents of the past have lead to safety innovations that keep us all safe when we’re driving. Provided you practice proper maintenance on your vehicle, the chances of your car being the cause of an accident is very low indeed.
If you neglect proper maintenance, such as checking the tread on tires or your oil levels, then the chances of an accident begin to rise. While car maintenance isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, it’s definitely a task that you’re going to want to undertake. The safety of the time you spend on the road is imperative to good maintenance by yourself, as well as regular servicing via a qualified mechanic.
Remember: while car accidents are relatively common, they can — to an extent — be avoided and prevented. If you follow the tips above, you can improve your odds, and ensure that the time you spend on the road is as safe as it can be. While it’s impossible to ever be 100% assured that you won’t experience an accident, you can ensure that 100% of the time you are driving as you should be– if you manage that, then the odds will definitely be in your favor.